The very beginning of spring fishing season can be challenging to many fishermen. For one thing, it’s still cold and raw outside. Spring runoff has made otherwise crystal clear rivers and lakes look like mud puddles. But the fish are hungry, and some of them are gravid and quite fat. If a fishermen knows just where to find them, they can be abundant. Here are the five best species to fish in spring.
Trout are such a sought after gamefish that they’ve been introduced all over the world. There are many species and subspecies. The brown trout is usually brown with black and red spots and can weigh from under a pound in small streams to over 30 pounds in large lakes.
The sea trout, which is largely silver with brown spots, is the migratory form of the brown trout. It goes out to sea when it’s about two years old then comes back to the river to spawn.
The rainbow trout has evolved into many subspecies, but most of them have a pinkish band along lateral line and small black spots on their sides, dorsal fins and tails. They usually weight around 24 pounds though some as large as 50 pounds have been caught. The steelhead is another type of migratory rainbow trout.
The cutthroat trout gets its name from the red slash beneath its jaw. It is usually full of black speckles, and there might be a copper line along the side. It’s usually around 5 pounds. One subspecies is the Yellowstone cutthroat, which has an orange, spotted body and red gill covers.
The golden trout is found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and is notable because it keeps its parr marks. These are bands on its sides that are seen in salmon and related fish when they’re young. The golden trout weighs about a pound if it is caught in streams and can weigh 10 times that if it’s caught in lakes.
Trout are famous for being caught through fly fishing. This is artificial bait made to lure the fish to bite it, either because it sees it as food or because it sees it as an annoyance. Natural bait for trout include plain earthworms and insect larvae.
The smallmouth bass, like its cousin the largemouth bass, is a type of black bass. Fisherman prize it because it puts up a fight. Like the trout, it was introduced in many places for the pleasure of catching it. It can grow to about 12 pounds and likes clear lakes and streams with rocky bottoms.
The largemouth bass gets its name because its upper jaw extends past its eye. The jaw of the smallmouth bass does not. Their dorsal fins are also different. The largemouth’s first dorsal fin is higher and nearly completely separate from the second dorsal fin. The smallmouth’s first dorsal fin is flatters and connected to the second dorsal. That said, the largemouth is not necessarily larger than the smallmouth bass, and the northern subspecies rarely gets heavier than 10 pounds. On the other hand, the Florida largemouth has been known to weigh more than 20 pounds.
All of the black bass are carnivorous predators and will even eat ducklings if they are available. Because of this, they will go for just about any type of bait.
The walleye is long and slender with two separate, spiny dorsal fins. It gets its name because its eyes are large and shiny and glow in the dark when a flashlight is trained on them. It is a type of perch and found in streams and lakes. It can reach 25 pounds and makes good eating. The walleye eats smaller fish, so minnows are good bait for them. The best techniques for catching walleye are float fishing, spinning and legering.
Crappies are found east of the Mississippi River and in southern Canada. There are two types: the black crappie and the white crappie. They’re often found together in rivers, lakes and ponds though the black crappie prefers clearer water. They are small, somewhat oval fish and usually weigh from less than a pound to five pounds, so they can be caught with light tackle. The best bait are small minnows and worms, wet and dry flies, spinners and crankbaits.